70th YEAR BHAGAVATA MELA NATAKA MAHOTSAV (MAY, 2010)
The inauguration of the Nataka Mahotsav on the 19th May 2010 by the legendary, omniscient, Dr. (Padmabushan) Padma Subrahmanyam, President, ABHAI (Association of Bharata Natyam Artistes of India, Chennai), and the greats in the field of natya in Dr. Vyjayanthimala Bali, Prof. (Padmabushan) Sudharani Raghupathy, (Padmasri) Chitra Visweswaran, was a spectacular event.
Among the audience were Dr. Pappu Venugopala Rao - the polymath, Dr. B M Sudaram - musicologist, N Sethuraman - son of “Bharatam” Melatttur Natesa Iyer, Krishna Prasad - Sr. Regional Manager, Indian Overseas Bank, Thanjavur, Swarnamalya - the leading danseuse and research scholar from Chennai, a number of research scholars and journalists from Bangalore and Andhra Pradesh, over 30 dancers from Chennai, Mumbai and Kerala representing ABHAI, local media and a great many devotees and rasikas from all parts of India.
The inaugural natakam, “Prahlada Charitam” and the other natakams in the billboard, Dei gratia, brought the house down, which is of course nothing unusual. The danseurs, surcharged with bhakti did their roles letter-perfect and out-acted with the scintillating and alpha-plus music support from the “Thiruvaiyyaru Brothers” Narasimhan and Venkatesan in the company of L Prabhakaran to the accompaniments of B Kannan, nephew of Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam on the vibrant “suddha-maddalam”, “Nagai” Sriram on the mrudangam, “Andankoil” Durai on the violin and Gokul on the flute, which made the audience breathless, from the beginning till the end.
(As votary offering, B Kannan plays the percussion instrument in the Prahlada Charitam for the last 12 years).
Letters from the rasikas are pouring in narrating their spiritual experiences at Melattur and, extolling the compositions of Venkatarama Sastry in chaste Telugu, the performances and the mesmerising music to the skies. The vox populi is that the greatness of Bhagavata Mela cannot be described in mere words and that “seeing is believing”!!
In the history of Bhagavata Mela, the 70th Year Bhagavata Mela Mahotsav became an annus mirabilis. For, a Workshop on Bhagavata Mela “darus” was conducted for the first time, for 5 days from 19 May through 23 May, in which 30 dancers from Chennai, Mumbai and Kerala led by ABHAI took part and learnt two unique darus. The Workshop was organised under the guidance and in the presence of Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam.
S Natarajan, President of Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Jayanti Bhagavata Mela Natya Nataka Sangam thanked Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam for her efforts in arranging and making the Workshop a grand success, and announced that the divine stage at Mellattur will every year provide one full evening slot during the annual Mahotsav for the members of ABHAI to pay Nrutyanjali to Lord Sri Lakshmi Nrusimha.
The Sangam, on the concluding day, thanked all the guests and the sponsors, and announced that the 71st Year Bhagavata Mela Nataka Mahotsav shall be held on and from the 20th May, 2011. Closure details of the Mahotsav can be viewed in this site by Mar, 2011.
Thanks to Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, President, ABHAI, a few Bhagavata Mela artists will be joining ABHAI in the Natyanjali proposed in September, 2010 to commemorate the 1000th Year of Thanjavur Brahadeeswara temple.
Photos courtesy: Sruti